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Tools, Equipment and Safety
Occasionally the need may arise where you would like to remove a coin from a third-party grading service encapsulated coin holder such as a PCGS slab. It may be that you want to resubmit the coin to the grading service in hopes of achieving a higher grade or you would like to place it in a coin album to add it to your collection. Regardless of the reason here is an easy way to remove the coin from its slab without damaging it.
There are some people who believe that you should never remove a coin from a third-party grading service encapsulated holder. If you're unfamiliar with the process, you should practice on a low-grade inexpensive coin in a PCGS holder. In case you make a mistake you will not damage an expensive coin. Once you are familiar and comfortable with the process, then you will be able to confidently crack out any coin from a PCGS holder.
First and foremost, the right tools are required to remove the coin without damaging it nor injuring yourself. Use or purchase the following items:
- A soft cotton hand towel that is clean and free of dirt and grime.
- A gallon size Ziploc bag.
- Channellock 10-Inch End Cutting Nipper Pliers (Part #: 148-10)
I specifically like the Channellock brand of pliers because of their durability and accuracy when cracking out coins. Only the Channellock pliers use a knife and anvil style cutting edge to ensure perfect mating and superior cutting edge. I know these usually cost more than generic end nipping pliers, but the money you will save by not ruining your first encapsulated coin will be well worth it. Also, the longer the handle length, the less force you will need to exert to crack the plastic. Anything shorter than 10 inches and you risk losing control of the pliers and possibly damaging your coinContinue to 2 of 10 below.
02 of 10
Hold the Coin Firmly but Don't Crack It Yet
It is important to work over the soft cotton towel in case you drop the coin at any time during this process. The first step is to grip the edge of the slab with the end cutting nipper pliers approximately where the insert that holds the coin on the inside of the slab is closest to the edge. Squeeze the players hard enough, so the slab does not fall out but not too hard that you start to crack the plastic.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
03 of 10
Safety Is Job #1
While holding the PCGS coin slab with the end nipping pliers place the slab inside the plastic bag. Using a plastic bag will prevent any plastic splinters or shards from flying across the room or getting embedded in your eye. Work over a table with the towel or soft cloth underneath. Be careful not to drop the slab or have the position of pliers move while you do this. As an additional measure of safety, it is recommended that you should use protective safety glasses over your eyes.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
04 of 10
Make the First Crack
With your other hand, firmly grasp the end nipping pliers with both hands. Gather some of the plastic bag under your hand to minimize the opening of the plastic bag. Firmly squeeze down on the pliers using a smooth motion until the plastic cracks.
Carefully remove the pliers from the plastic bag without touching the part of the coin that is now exposed. Reach into the plastic bag and remove the plastic piece(s) that broke off. Once again, use caution so you do not touch the part of the exposed coin with your bare hands.
[CAUTION!] PCGS uses an inert plastic that is extremely hard. When it breaks, it almost has the same properties of broken glass. Therefore, exercise extreme caution because the cracked edges of the plastic may be very sharp. If the cracked off piece of the coin holder did not separate from the slab, remove the slab and the piece together from the bag. Otherwise, remove the slab from the plastic bag last.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
The First Crack Is Complete
Although it is impossible to predict exactly how the slab will crack, more often than not the slab will crack diagonally from the point where the pliers made an impact to the bottom of the coin slab. If the piece did not separate from the slab, carefully slide the piece off the slab, so you do not scratch the coin.
[CAUTION!] Exercise care when executing the step because the cracked edges of the plastic may be extremely sharp.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
06 of 10
Get Ready for Crack #2
Using the end nipping pliers grasp the other side of the coin slab approximately halfway down where the inert plastic insert is closest to the edge of the slab. Use enough pressure, so the slab does not fall away from the pliers and possibly damaged the exposed part of the coin.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
07 of 10
Carefully Make Crack #2
Carefully place the coin slab inside the plastic bag again. Be careful that you do not lose your grip and the coin slab falls away from the pliers. Work over the table with the soft cloth or towel underneath. Losing your grip may damage the exposed part of the coin. While gripping the pliers with your other hand, gather some of the plastic bag to minimize the opening. Once again, firmly squeeze the pliers until the plastic cracks.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
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Remove the Final Piece
Remove the slab and any remaining pieces from the plastic bag. Be careful that you do not scratch the coin with the pliers or the broken pieces.
[CAUTION!] Once again, be careful because the cracked edges of the slab may be very sharp.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Remove the Coin and Insert from the Slap
Carefully slide the coin and the inert plastic insert out of the slab. Be careful not to scrape the coin against the sharp edges of the broken encapsulated holder. Remember, the edges are sharp so be careful not to cut yourself.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
10 of 10
Remove the Coin from the Inert Plastic Holder
Now that the coin and the inert plastic insert has been removed from the slab, carefully slide the coin out of the inert plastic insert. It is best done with cotton or powder-free latex gloves. Your coin is now ready for re-submission or as a new addition your coin collection.